, Londonderry NH

Also known as the TU, a place to keep up on local politics, events, and issues that affect you.

School District ‘Right to Know’ to complex and requires an appointment?

The Interim Superintendent is advising against changing the districts Right to Know Policy KBA. The claim is the district will be ‘swamped’ with requests from outside of Londonderry and would need ‘hire more staff to comply’. The superintendent supplied only two RTK requests supporting how the school district could be ‘swamped’ with RTK requests. The Superintendent also claims ALL RTK’s must be handled the same, yet recent RTK requests have been handled differently. Under current policy if a person requests information from the district by simply asking, the district is more than happy to comply and send the information if available. If the same person makes the same request, but references ‘Right to Know’ the request is now much more ‘complex’ AND requires the requestor to make an appointment and physically go to the district office to receive the requested information.

What constitutes a ‘Right to Know’ request? Does the request require the word ‘Right to Know’ in the subject? What if only ‘RTK’ is used, isn’t any request considered a ‘Right to Know’ under current policy?

The Interim Superintendent gave only two examples of what he considers possibly ‘frivolous’ requests. Why are we assuming that entities across the globe will flood Londonderry with RTK requests if the school district provided information to residents via email?

This will be presented at the November 29,2022 School Board meeting under agenda item 6.4

To: Londonderry School Board
From: Dan Black
Date: November 22, 2022
Re: Keeping Current Policy on Right to Know Requests

Attached to this memo is our current Right to Know Policy – KBE – and two emails that are examples of people who live very far away from Londonderry that made Right to Know Requests over the last year.

At face value, we appreciate the sentiment that we want to make it easy for Londonderry citizens to gain access to information from the school district. I am happy to share that after the last school board meeting, we did have one citizen reach out for information on a recent hire, and we were able to email that information back within a couple of hours. It is an example of what we were promoting at the last school board meeting around Right to Know Requests: If there is information you are seeking on the Londonderry School District, and we are able to share it, we will. We are not trying to create unnecessary barriers for our citizens.

However, as part of the Right to Know landscape, we do get requests all the time from entities far from Londonderry searching for information. One example is from Mandy Dorman from Irving Texas that we received in December of 2021, and another is from the Business Insider from August 2022.

Right now, if you read policy KBE, both these entities would need to come to the Londonderry School District Office to complete this request. This approach protects the Londonderry School District from these requests in that we do not want some far-off entity having free reign to ask for any information they want from us, and we would have to spend many people hours complying and sharing this information. I do not know the reasoning behind these two requests, some of it seem frivolous, and if we had a policy where we had to comply and just share this information electronically (by email) we would be swamped with these requests and would certainly need to hire more staff to comply. As a school system, and community, we need to avoid that reality.

For that reason, I would not recommend we change our current policy, because we must administer our Right to Know requests the same with citizens of Londonderry and far-away entities and cannot treat them differently – that is the whole point of having a policy so that we act consistently. I know that is frustrating for some members of the Londonderry community to hear.

However, I am encouraged that we did have one person from the community reach out after our last school board meeting to ask for information outside the complexity of a Right to Know request and we were able to easily comply in a short period of time.


Policy KBA

Every citizen during the SAU’s business hours at the SAU Office may inspect and copy SAU and Londonderry School District governmental records which are not exempt from disclosure under RSA 91-A:5 or any other statute.

Requests for Governmental Records

A citizen’s request to review a record should contain enough information to reasonably describe the record or information requested. A request for a record that does not have a reasonable description of the subject matter or time period is not sufficient. Requests should be made in writing to ensure that the SAU and School District understand the request.

Response to Requests for Governmental Records

Governmental records which are subject to disclosure and are immediately available for review and inspection will be provided for inspection upon request whenever possible.

Often, however, governmental records may not be immediately available for a number of reasons including that the records are being used; the records must be compiled; the records must be reviewed or redacted for information which is not subject to disclosure; or the records must be reviewed by legal counsel to determine whether they are subject to disclosure.

If requested governmental records are not immediately available, the SAU or School District will within five (5) days of the request either: (1) make the record available; (2) deny the request in writing with reasons; or (3) furnish a written acknowledgement of receipt of the request and a statement of when the SAU or School District expects to be able to complete the retrieval and review necessary to determine if the record exists, whether it is subject to disclosure, and when the process is expected to be completed.

Reviewing and Inspecting Governmental Records

When the governmental records which are not exempt from disclosure are available for review and inspection, the requester will be contacted and notified that the requested records can be reviewed at the SAU Office during business hours.

Costs or Fees

The cost of copies is $ .50 per sheet when the request is for specific records identified by the requester or when the requester personally reviews and inspects the records and selects the records to be copied. The requester will be charged the cost for thumb drives, discs, or other electronic copying devices provided to the requester.

If the requester chooses not to personally review and inspect the records and does not reasonably describe the requested records, the SAU or School District may charge an hourly research charge to cover the actual cost of providing the copy instead of the per sheet copy cost.

If the requester wants the records to be mailed, the requester will be charged the actual costs of postage or delivery and the applicable costs for copies or research time and must prepay those costs.

Amendments to Right-To-Know Law

Any amendments to the Right-To-Know Law authorizing public entities to charge additional amounts for responding to Right-To-Know Law requests are incorporated into these procedures.

Legal References:
RSA 91-A:1, Access to Governmental Records & Meetings

Adopted: August 25, 2015

Updated: November 28, 2022 — 1:39 PM, Londonderry NH © 2022 Frontier Theme
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